Good morning! I love being frugal and I love camping, especially having a campfire. I love the smell, the warmth and the crackle of a campfire. Cooking and experimenting with recipes is just more fun outside, even if outside is over the backyard fire pit.
Sometimes though, frugality and starting a campfire don’t mix. I like the cute dryer lint fire starters that I see online, but I don’t have dryer lint. One way I am frugal, is by enjoying drying clothes outside on the clothesline. I’m not as strict about only using the clothesline, like I was during my 3 year dryer challenge, but I still don’t have dryer lint.
Thankfully, we have been making free, recycled fire starters at home for years. It is a fun project to do over a campfire, the fire pit or in the house over the stove. We have even made them during the dark days of winter, when we are dreaming of camping and trying to prepare for a new camping season.
The fire starters make great Christmas presents for camping family and friends, or ones that just enjoy their fireplace or outdoor fire pit. We have even given them to friends and family who get new campers, for a ‘house’ warming present.
Fire Starter Supplies:
egg cartons, the newsprint pulp ones- not the styrofoam type
old candles, candle stubs or crayons
tin can for melting wax
wooden spoon, not to use with food again
I am always surprised at how easy and quick they are to make. The hot wax scares me though, which is one reason why sand candles took so long to make.
First, fill the egg carton dimples ½ ways with sawdust. It really doesn’t take much saw dust, I use about ½ to ¾ cup per egg carton.
Then, melt the old candles or crayons. I use a large, old tin can (like a tomato or juice can). We squished the top to help have a pour spout. Today, the husband suggested a metal campfire coffee pot. Since it would have a pour spout, if it was only for wax, I think the coffee pot would work great! Just not the one I currently use for camping coffee! I can add it to my garage sale ‘to buy list’! Woo-Hoo! I love any excuse to go garage sale-ing or to an auction!
Please be very careful and cautious with the hot wax. When we make them inside, I use a double boiler. I just stick the can in a pot of water, to melt the wax. Outside, we set the can right on the fire grate or tripod rack.
For both places, I keep the young children away, in a separate room or I wait until very young ones are asleep. I never know when I will spill, so I am always cautious. I was the same way when draining pasta or canning, from the time they were babies-they had to completely leave the room.
After the candles are melted, the husband uses pliers to tip and pour the can. I am starting to really love the metal coffee pot idea; I could help pour, too. I am a bit messy, so right now I let the husband pour the hot wax.
Fill the egg carton dimples with wax and then, just let them cool. The wax may soak into the egg carton, but that’s ok. Ours have never leaked all the way through, you can see it soaked into the carton from the outside sometimes.
Besides being frugal and fun to make, I love the fire starters because they stack easily. It is very tidy to stack the cartons in the camper cupboards, even if you get carried away and make 10 egg cartons!
Since one dimple will start a fire, and we really did make 10 cartons-we had enough to start 120 fires! Even I don’t have that many fires in one season, though maybe that should be a new goal! We had a lot of fun sharing the fire starters with family and friends last year, and now it was time to make more. I am glad we had to make more, since I can also share making our frugal fire starters with you!
When you are ready to use the fire starters, tear off one dimple and corresponding top area of the egg carton. Stack kindling/twigs around the fire starter and light a corner of the carton.
I just learned that the husband places his fire starters upside down; I don’t, when I am making an early morning campfire for my coffee. It must not matter, since we both are able to start a fire.
A single fire starter will burn for about 10-15 minutes. We usually use scrap wood for kindling, and they work great to start the fire.
I love making our frugal fire starters. They are easy and fun to make, to store and to use. It is great that they use recycled items, and I can even watch for old candles at garage sales and auctions. Now, I can also watch for a metal coffee pot to help make the fire starters. Since they are sooo easy and frugal, I like making extras to share with family and friends.
I hope you will try making our frugal fire starters, they help make starting a campfire easy.
Happy Camping (or starting a campfire!)